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George Baker

Last updated 16 October 2016


George Baker (1931-2011)
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George Baker MBE

Born: Wed 1st April 1931
Died: Fri 7th October 2011 (age: 80)

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Baker was born in VarnaBulgaria. His father was an English businessman and honorary vice consul. He attended Lancing CollegeSussex; he then appeared as an actor in repertory theatreand at the Old Vic

Baker first made his name in The Dam Busters and his first starring role was in The Ship That Died of Shame with Richard Attenborough. This was followed by a string of Ealing films, and his film the 1950s swashbuckler, The Moonraker has been shown all over the world since 1958. However over time, Baker became more well known as a television actor. He was the second (to Guy Doleman) of many actors to portray the role of "Number Two" in the series The Prisoner, appearing in the series' first episode. He appeared in his own TV comedy series Bowler. He was also in the first episode of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, playing a company boss interviewing the show's hapless main character. In the acclaimed 1976 drama serial, I, Claudius, Baker played the emperorTiberius Caesar.

In the late 1970s, he starred as Inspector Roderick Alleyn in four adaptations of the mystery novels of Ngaio Marsh with New Zealand settings, in a production for New Zealand television. From 1988 to 2000, he played Inspector Reg Wexford in numerous television adaptations of mysteries by Ruth Rendell and this is probably the role for which he became best known. In 1993, following the death of his second wife, he married the actress Louie Ramsay, who played Mrs Wexford in the same television series.

He also appeared in The BaronSurvivorsMinder in Series 1's You Gotta Have FriendsCoronation Street (as brewery owner Cecil Newton) and in the Doctor Who story Full Circle.

Baker also appeared in the British comedy television series The Goodies' episode "Tower of London" as the "Chief Beefeater", as well as in the sitcom No Job for a Lady, and he is popularly known for playing Captain Benson, the James Bond ally in the film The Spy Who Loved Me and for his appearances as Sir Hilary Bray in On Her Majesty's Secret Service and You Only Live Twice[1]Ian Fleming considered Baker to be the ideal candidate to play James Bond in the films but the role went to Sean Connery because Baker had other commitments. In On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Baker dubbed George Lazenby's voice for the central segment of the film, where Bond is impersonating Sir Hilary Bray (Baker's character in the film), as can clearly be heard.

Baker's first theatre work was in repertory at Deal, Kent. His major stage credits include a season with the Old Vic company (1959�61), where he played Bolingbroke in Richard II, Jack in The Importance of being Earnest and Warwick inSaint Joan. In 1965 he started his own touring company, Candida Plays, based at the Theatre RoyalBury St EdmundsSuffolk. He was Claudius in Buzz Goodbody's celebrated, modern-dress Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Companyin 1975. 

In 1980 Baker wrote Fatal Spring, a play for television dealing with lives of poets Wilfred OwenSiegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves; this appeared on BBC 2 on 7 November 1980. It won him a United Nations peace award. His other writing credits included four of the Wexford screenplays.

In 2007, Baker was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire ("MBE") for his charitable work helping establish a youth club in his home village.

 

Biography from the Wikipedia article, licensed under CC-BY-SA